Taiwan’s “ten-year long term care plan”
In 2008, Taiwan implemented a “ten-year long term care plan” to help resolve Taiwan’s extreme shortage of domestic long term care for the increasing number of infirm seniors. In that year, Taiwan did not have any public senior care givers system, so the government imported in that year 38,735 “foreign domestic care workers”. In 2009, Taiwan imported another 40,617 such foreign domestic workers, in 2010, 41,933 were imported, in 2011, 43,775 were imported, in 2012, 43,241 were imported, in 2013, 43,899 were imported, and in 2014, 46,234 were imported.
In 2008, these imported “foreign domestic workers” took care of 165,898 Taiwanese infirm seniors. In 2009, they took care of 172,647 infirm seniors, in 2010, they took care of 183,826 infirm seniors, in 2011, they took care of 195,726 infirm seniors, in 2012, they took care of 200,530 infirm seniors, in 2013, they took care of 208,081 infirm seniors, and in 2014, they took care of 217,858 infirm seniors.
Taiwan’s minimum wage is NT$20,008 by law but the average monthly wage of the foreign domestic worker that was NT$15,840 has been raised to an average of NT$17,000. Taiwan’s foreign domestic caretakers are hired by individuals, usually an offspring of an infirm senior family member. The foreign domestic caretakers are not given any vacation time, they used to have to leave Taiwan for a day to renew their work contract, and they are not included in nor protected by Taiwan’s “basic labor law”. Many foreign domestic caretakers to not get enough sleep because they often have to wake up every two hours to turn their bedridden seniors over to prevent bed sores. Taiwan’s human protection center had taken care of four such foreign domestic workers who suffered from psychotic episodes, including cases in which the foreign domestic worker ran away late at night to roam about in the streets, or gauging out the eyes of people’s faces in photographs. Even after they had recovered from their psychosis, they were unable to resume work and had to be extradited.
On August 6, some legislators of the Democratic Progressive Party paid a 3-day visit to Indonesia and met with Indonesian vice president Jusuf Kalla. He welcomed Taiwan’s “new southward policy” and said that Indonesia’s plan to reduce its export or domestic workers from 2017 to 2019 and to stop exporting any domestic worker by 2019 is not aimed at just Taiwan, rather, it is aimed at Middle East countries where many Indonesia household workers have been abused. Indonesia plans to shift to the export of technical workers beginning in 2019.
Among Taiwan’s foreign domestic caretakers, 79% come from Indonesia. And Indonesia’s plan to reduce the export of domestic workers will impact Taiwan’s long term care. At present, overseas Indonesian workers number 7 million, and 60% of them work abroad as domestic caretakers. There are 230,000 Indonesian workers in Taiwan, and 170,000 of them work as domestic caretakers, constituting 79% of all of Taiwan’s foreign home care workers. The rest of them are Filipinas.
Taiwan’s foreign domestic caretakers numbered 160,000 in 2008 because in that year, Taiwan did not yet have any public domestic care service and the number of Taiwanese domestic service workers was zero. Most of them were female Filipinas. In 2014, Taiwan’s own domestic services workers numbered only 43,584 people.